Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, whose country has been knocking on NATO's door for ten months, is due to meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Friday, in the hope of obtaining a green light for his entry into the Alliance. Atlantic.
Mr. Niinistö had assured Wednesday that Turkey, a member of NATO for half a century, would announce its decision on Friday regarding Finland's application for membership.
"I will go [to Ankara] to receive their intentions," he said in a statement.
The Turkish president, who has blocked the entry of Finland and Sweden since May 2022, had hinted earlier on Wednesday that he would respond favorably to the "promise" given in Helsinki to join the Alliance.
"On Friday we will meet the [Finnish] president and do what our promise entails," Erdogan said.
The meeting between Messrs. Erdogan and Niinistö, who traveled Thursday to the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, epicenter of the devastating earthquake of February 6, should start around 2:30 p.m. (11:30 GMT).
If Mr. Erdogan gives his blank check, it will be up to the Turkish Parliament to ratify Finland's application to join the Atlantic Alliance, submitted jointly with Sweden last year as a result of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Finland shares more than 1,300 km of land border with Russia.
The date of the vote of the Turkish Parliament is not known, the question remains whether it will take place before or after the presidential and legislative elections of May 14.
The Turkish Parliament is expected to suspend its work about a month before the double ballot.
Even if Hungary must also ratify Finland's application for membership, a Turkish green light would pave the way for Finland's entry into NATO.
The other 28 member states of the Alliance have ratified the membership application of the two Nordic countries, which must be approved unanimously.
Things are on the other hand much more complicated for Sweden, which concentrates the objections of Ankara.
Turkey notably accuses Stockholm of being passive in the face of Kurdish "terrorists" who have taken refuge in Sweden. And the burning of a copy of the Koran in Sweden, in January, had finished suspending the process.
The Turkish president then hinted, on January 29, that Finland could join the alliance alone.
On Tuesday, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also acknowledged that the likelihood of his neighbor joining NATO before Sweden had "increased" lately.
Mr. Kristersson, however, remains hopeful of completing his country's entry into the Alliance before the next NATO summit scheduled for July in Vilnius, Lithuania.
17/03/2023 14:47:55 - Ankara (AFP) © 2023 AFP